Reading is the opposite of dissipation; it is a mental and moral practice of concentration which leads us to unknown worlds.
Octavio Paz 1
Angels of Russia, a novel by Patricia le Roy, created something of a controversy in summer 1998 when it was nominated for the Booker McConnell Prize.2 (That annual prize is the most prestigious literary award in the United Kingdom and goes to the "best full-length novel written in English by a citizen of the U.K., the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland, Pakistan, or South Africa."3) The controversy revolved around the question of "when is a book a book?" Angels was not available in any bookstore, it existed solely as a virtual book. Some of the judges took the position that an electronic text is not a book, whereas others thought the emphasis should be on literary merit, not physical format. (We will revisit the concepts and issues of content versus packaging later in this chapter.) To a large degree, the Angels controversy reflects the same issue that libraries and information centers have been struggling with for 15 or more years reality versus virtuality.
In recent years, there have been many developments in the electronic delivery of information. Articles about virtual libraries, or virtual knowledge centers, appear almost monthly in the professional journals (see page 3 for a discussion of virtuals). Interactive multimedia is another concept that some people claim will solve the information problems of society. Authors present images of brave new worlds in which individuals will be able to gain access to any type of information (text, numeric, graphic, or audio) from home, office, or even a traveler's hotel room. More and more, many of those scenarios are becoming reality, but they are almost always available only to those few who can afford or have access to the high-end machines required to access such material.
The technologies these authors describe existing and projected hold no great promise for assisting in the information transfer process. Taken to the ultimate scenario, one sees a world where one sits in one's own space and need never have direct physical contact with another human being. In fact, Raymond Kurzweil suggested that we can look forward to virtual physical relations! 4 A world without face-to-face interaction does not appeal to many people, including me. One writer suggests that books and reading are something like horses.5 That is, in the late nineteenth century, horses were the primary mode of transportation. Today, we still have horses, but primarily for pleasure use, and only a few people ride for pleasure.
Perhaps some time in the future, books and reading will be the "horses" of information. However, even if it becomes possible to deliver all information to all individuals everywhere, I believe that the interest in the technology misses a key point, as reflected in the Paz quotation, which goes on to state:
to read is to discover unsuspected paths that lead to our own selves. It is recognition. In the era of advertising and instantaneous communication, how many people are able to read this way? Very few. But the continuity of our civilization lies with them.6
What the technologies are best at is delivering information. It takes time and personal effort to convert information into knowledge and more time, and some luck, into wisdom.
Although reading is only one means of acquiring information, it is perhaps the most important. Presently, technologies can present on a computer screen only portions of the information that would normally appear on a printed page. Individuals must download, or have delivered, a paper copy of the material if they wish to consult the information away from the screen. There are a number of problems with this approach to reading. Two of the more significant challenges are the costs entailed in getting information from electronic sources, and users' assumptions about those sources.
As more libraries and information centers pass along some or all of the direct costs of electronic information, users will attempt to keep their costs as low as possible. This often results in the person taking only a small part of the information in a large file. Without having the full file, the individual is more likely to misinterpret or misunderstand the material. We have entered an age in which information bites could have an even greater impact on society than television's sound bites. Individuals become accustomed to instant information and subsequently demand instant facts, interpretation, and presumed understanding of complex issues in 30 seconds or less. Electronics reinforce the need for speed. (Waiting for a second becomes too long when one is working with a computer.) There is an all-too-common faith that the electronic sources are accurate, complete, and up-to-date.
Some people often assume that if they check for information in an electronic system, they have all the information on their topic. On one level they know this is a false assumption, but they operate as if it were true. A related assumption is that the information found electronically is the most current and accurate, rather like the past assumption that if the information appears in a book then it must be true. Somehow libraries and information centers must do more to educate end users about electronic sources and their limitations.
Patricia Battin stated:
Approximately ninety percent of the information needs of academic and research programs rely upon an essentially nineteenth-century information system. It coexists with an emerging twenty-first century information system that currently serves only ten percent of those needs. The coexistence contributes to a frenetic schizophrenia among students and faculty, who expect the efficiency and convenience of electronic facilities from traditional library services, and the comprehensive literature coverage of traditional library collections from electronic systems. 7
Although she wrote the above in 1990, the facts remain almost unchanged. Paper-based resources continue to be a major source for scholarly activity.
What does all this have to do with collection development? Everything, we believe. Even if the brave new world of electronic information comes to pass, there will be a need for locally maintained resources, if for no other reason than cost control. Electronic information does not reduce costs, but rather shifts them. Securing information from locally maintained databases, for high-use sources, will most likely remain less expensive than paying for the information plus the telecommunication charges for accessing a remote database on an as-needed basis. Knowing who is using what, for what purposes, and how often, as well as knowing what sources exist that can supply the information in the most cost-effective way, is the keystone of present and foreseeable collection development work. If, however, books and reading remain crucial factors in the transfer of information, the same skills and understanding are equally necessary.
A 1998 article in Library Journal outlined some of the problems that exist in finding information on the Internet.8 The essence of the article was who canand how to"tame" the Web: commercial for-profit organizations or librarians? On the commercial side, only Yahoo! (
Charles Handy, in discussing trust and the virtual organization, touched on the issue of the volume of information, the growing dependence on technology in peoples' daily lives, and society.9 He described the "Three I Economy" of information, ideas, and intelligence. His concluding remarks dealt with society's dilemma:
The hope for the future that is contained within the virtual organization will end in disillusionment unless we can mobilize society to think beyond itself to save itself. . . . [I]f business minds its own business exclusively or if it takes virtuality to extremes and becomes a mere broker or box of contracts, then it will have failed society. In the end, its search for wealth will have destroyed wealth
Our view is that the future will lie somewhere between the technologists' projections and what exists today. The idea of fiction, essays, literature, poetry, and biographies becoming the "horses" of the information future is most unappealing.
Nature of Information
Some individuals talk as if information were a newly discovered, mysterious, and natural phenomenon. For librarians and others working in information centers, information is neither new nor mysterious; it is the product they have always worked with, an old friend. Nevertheless, both perspectives have an element of truth.
Libraries and their collections (information) have existed for thousands of years. For example, the Red Temple at Uruk, dating about 3000 B.C., contained a library. People recognized the value of information, although sometimes in rather unusual ways. For example, monks in European medieval libraries chained many of their books to reading stalls. (There were several reasons for chaining the books, the value of the information being one.) Collecting and organizing information and making it more available to individuals has a long history. However, during the past 15 to 20 years, a major shift in attitude of Western societies toward information has taken place.
More organizations and people treat information as an economic product like petroleum, cardboard boxes, or automobiles. For example, there are many newsletter or special report information services that charge thousands of dollars for one year's service. (Some examples of the cost of information are Petroleum Argus Telex, which cost $22,198 in 1995, and the Decima Quarterly Report for $26,065 in 1997. The most costly of 1998 titles, Outlook for Market Pulp Demand Supply and Prices, was $81,729. 11) Combined with this different attitude toward information is the variety of technological developments that affect the generation, storage, and retrieval of information.
As we near a new millennium, what is happening in the late 1990s is, in many ways, similar to what happened with the widespread use of movable type. As Patricia Sabosik noted, the turmoil in today's publishing is almost the same as in the fifteenth century.12 Just as the printing press shifted access to information from a few to many people, we are seeing a similar shift today. Sabosik suggested that the shift today is from libraries to end users. In her view, libraries are becoming intermediaries, rather than storehouses, of information. Certainly some of the shifting she described has already taken place and is likely to grow in scope; however, the process will probably take a long time to complete. That is, assuming that the virtual library, or knowledge center, of the future does become an electronic switching center service.
The net effect of the combination is a new phenomenon that creates problems for libraries and society. Many problems relate to handling the economic aspects of information and access to that information (often written about in terms of ownership versus access). Although a detailed discussion of these problems is beyond the scope of this book, I will mention them where they have an influence on collection development and resource management.
Collection development personnel and library administrators are struggling with the shift of information from print to electronic formats. For that matter, so are the producers of information. Neither libraries nor producers have decided how to resolve the access/ownership issue. Naturally, the real issue is money; vendors and producers want to profit as much as possible, and libraries need to make their limited funding go as far as possible. Not surprisingly, there has been growing tension between these parties.
In 1996, Curt Holleman examined the access/ownership issue for journals 13 in a university library setting. He found a complex mix requiring a title-by-title assessment. Even within a single field, there was no clear pattern taking into account the subscription price, usage patterns, and cost to acquire on an as-needed basis. I fully agree with his concluding comments:
It is particularly erroneous to assume that an electronic future will offer free access to all information in all formats to all people. There are as many reasons to think that certain kinds of information will be restricted to the privileged few in an electronic environment as there are in the environment of yesterday. Librarians will be remiss if they fail to take advantage of the extraordinary offerings of the electronic revolution, but they will be equally remiss if they forsake paper products for the sake of being up to date.14
A year later, Payne and Burke reached a similar conclusion, this time regarding a college library environment.15
What are some examples of the problems and changes that have taken place? One of the challenges is how to set a fair price for electronic information. Producers and vendors realize, to a greater or lesser degree, that they cannot ignore the fact that funding is finite for libraries, and even for corporate research and development activities. Determining how to set that appropriate price is difficult, because information does not have the characteristics of other commodities, and thus traditional economic models do not work well with information. Information economics has been pondered by scholars for more than 30 yearsMarshall McLuhan's Understanding Media (McGraw-Hill, 1964), Jean Baudrillard's Simulations (Semiotexts, 1983), and Cristiano and Antonelli's Economics of Information Networks (North Holland, 1992), to name but a few.
R. O. Mason provided a starting point for understanding what is meant by "the economic value of information." He identified three key elements:
•Efficiency where information helps the user to do the job faster, more accurately, and at lower cost (i.e., how to do the job "right").
•Effectiveness where information helps the performance of a task that could not be done before (i.e., how to do the "right" job).
•Responsiveness where information helps to respond to customers' demands for service irrespective of efficiency or effectiveness.16
There is little evidence that producers have attempted to factor these concepts into their pricing decisions. The Consumer Price Index (General)
increased by 89 percent between 1980 and 1997, while the academic library price index rose by 138 percent. Part of the reason for the differential is the lack of accepted standards for pricing information (paper or electronic). Carol Tenopir's article on pricing options for electronic materials identified seven different pricing patterns used by producers. 17 Her data came from a survey of 182 academic and public libraries. The seven methods were, in order of frequency of use: simultaneous users, flat fee, size of library, per use, potential users, type of library, and other (consortial) considerations. Vendors do change the basis for charging from time to time, making it difficult to predict costs from year to year. Libraries prefer a system that allows cost control and predictability.
What are the characteristics that are specialspecial enough to make information almost unique? Unlike other economic commodities, people share information even after selling it. Sellers always retain the information in some form, if only in their memories. There are two economic aspects to the sale of information: (1) the cost of packaging the information, and (2) the cost/value of information contained in the package. When the package is a book, newspaper, magazine, videotape, or audiotape, for example, people tend to think of the package as the information. An individual confronted with an online system where one pays for information by the ''screen" and yet cannot retain a hard copy, or who is considering paying $30,000 for a quarterly newsletter subscription, quickly begins to appreciate the differences between information and package value.
Another special characteristic of information is that it is neither scarce nor depleting. In fact, the more people use and manipulate it, the more information there is. Many information problems are the result of having too much information rather than too little. The problem is locating the necessary information at the right time. To some extent, the changes discussed here are contributing to copyright problems (see chapter 18 for a discussion of copyright). Ownership of ideas, facts, and information is more of an issue today, unlike in the past when the issue was primarily the expression of ideas, facts, and information. Perhaps the ultimate in ownership is demonstrated in an electronic novel by William Gibson.18 This book was a self-contained computer file that erased the data after the user viewed each "page." There was no going back to review the previous pages, to examine how the author expressed an idea, or to reread a passage simply because you enjoyed itunless you bought another copy! It is frightening to think that this might become the next phase of the pricing and ownership struggle. Although such an approach solves the issue of sharing information in the traditional sense, most societies could not tolerate such an approach for the majority of the information its citizens produce.
Additional characteristics of information that make it a special commodity are transportability, intangibility, compressibility, expandability, storability (in a variety of forms and formats), and manipulability. Other characteristics that create problems in developing good pricing models include:
•Information is often developed without regard for the market (theoretical research). People create information for a variety of reasons, but not very often because they know there is a market for the information.
•Information is produced and consumed simultaneouslyeconomists deal with items entering the marketplace and have a time factor between production and use.
•Information is heterogeneous, which means that no single definition covers all the variations which create multiple "commodities." It is also heterogeneous in its value; two people in the same organization performing similar work can and do value the same information differently. Also, the value of information can change over time for a person. In essence, the value is subjective, making it impossible for neoclassical economists to develop a model.
•Information is indivisible in the sense that it is difficult to determine when it is complete. Incomplete information can cause problems, but when does it become complete? In one set of circumstances, information "X" may be complete; in another circumstance, though, "X" would be incomplete.
The nature of information collections is changing, both in terms of formats collected and in ways of providing access to the information. Nevertheless, high-tech information services and databases still consist of collections of information. What to include and what to exclude from the collection must be decided. Someone has to acquire the information in some manner, as well as maintain the collection. Collection management usually involves making certain that the information is current; older information is discarded or stored in a manner indicating that the information is dated. If the service is fee-based, someone must monitor users' needs and interest to assure that the database reflects what the information buyers want. These are the basic steps of collection development, so collection development will not disappear when the oft-proposed high technology information center finally becomes a reality. Even Raymond Kurzweil, in spite of his suggestion about "virtual physical relations," acknowledged that the librarian will still have the function of selecting materials for the virtual collection. 19
Whatever form the future megalibrary may take, it is certain that its basis will be a collection of information resources. Unless there is a plan for what the collection will contain, the megalibrary will have limited, if any, value. The purpose of this book is to assist individuals in gaining an understanding of the process of developing an intelligent and useful collection for the end users of that collection.
Concepts and Terms
Several concepts and terms, as we use them in this text, require definitions. Starting with some basic general terms, such as information, and ending with a specific concept such as collection management, this section provides a foundation for the remainder of the book. As in prior editions, we try to present a generic picture of collection development without tying it to any particular institutional or organizational form (e.g., the library).
Information is the recognition of patterns in the flow of matter and energy reaching an individual or organization. All flows of matter and energy have the capability of carrying patterned signals. Information is present
only when a person recognizes the pattern. Each person then develops a set of recognized patterns, and not everyone recognizes the same patterns or necessarily interprets a given pattern in the same way. For example, a strange noise in an automobile may mean nothing to a driver, but to a trained auto mechanic the sound indicates that the universal joint needs servicing (information). Two other examples of pattern recognition are a well log (record of drilling operations) and spectrum analysis. To the untrained person, a well log is meaningless and of no value; to a geologist or other trained professional, these long strips of paper are an invaluable source of information about subsurface conditions and formations. Depending upon how the person interprets the information, it may save, cost, or earn thousands or even millions of dollars for a company.
For astronomers, colors in a spectrum analysis convey information about the distance, movement, and composition of stars. To the layperson, a spectrum analysis is simply an interesting or pretty display of color.
Involvement in the information cycle (see fig. 1.1) is a constant for everyone as matter and energy flow by us. Objects emit patterned signals that flow past us (subjects). We identify the signals and evaluate the patterns based on experience. We ignore most of the signals and act only when the pattern provides information. When a person receives an information (action) signal, he or she implements the action that will provide satisfaction.
The information cycle.
The information cycle is very similar to the human communication model that most of us learned about in one or more of our undergraduate courses. For human communication to take place, a person must express the information patterns in a symbolic form that other people know and understand. True human communication occurs only when two or more people share a symbol-referent system. Figure 1.2 illustrates the components of the communication model.
The sender, wishing to communicate with the receiver, has an idea or feeling (a meaning) that she or he encodes by selecting the appropriate symbols representing the desired meaning. This process creates the message. After encoding, the sender selects the means of delivering the message (channel)written, oral, pictorial. On the receiver's side, the message arrives, is decoded, and a meaning is assigned to the message. When the process is completed, a communication has taken place; however, this does not necessarily imply that the sender's intended meaning is identical to the meaning the receiver assigned to the message. As is true of the information cycle, a single symbol may have multiple meanings. The more abstract the idea a person wishes to communicate, the more likely it is that "noise" somewhere in the system will distort the true meaning. Some common "noise" factors for people include differences in education, experiences, and mental
Communication model demonstrating noise factors
state. Normally, the general meaning will be the same, but often the general meaning is not adequate, and an identical meaning is required. The feedback loop provides a mechanism that allows people to clarify meanings, so that closer (if not identical) meaning and understanding can be achieved. Because an information center or library may work with all forms of human communication, some knowledge of the communication model is helpful in a variety of ways.
Later in this volume, such issues as conducting needs assessments, developing collection policies, evaluating collections, and handling complaints are examined. All of these activities involve the communication process (model), and remembering to use the feedback loop to verify meaning and to control system "noise" will make the library or information center a more effective service organization.
The term organization is used in this volume in two ways. The first meaning, and the one least often used, refers to the process of arranging information, knowledge, and materials in some logical manner for ease of retrieval. The second and more frequently used meaning relates to people and draws on work by a well-known management writer, Chester Barnard. Barnard's work on human organization is extensive, and a simplified explanation of his concept follows.
Human organization, according to Barnard, consists of five basic elements: size, interdependence, input, throughput, and output. 20 An organization can vary in size from one as large as the United States federal government to one as small as two people. The size factor is important for information service work because there is often a tendency not to consider two or three people working together as an organization. Barnard's model does not include any time factor; if all five elements are present, an organization could exist, whether for just a few hours or for centuries. What differentiates a group of two or more people from an organization of two or more people arises from the other elements. Interdependence requires recognition of the existence of one or more shared or common goals, as well as the recognition that by working together (cooperating), the achievement of these goals will be easier, faster, or in some manner beneficial to everyone in the organization. Disagreement and tension can be and usually are present, but the value of mutually shared benefits holds the organization together. Once the organization sets its goals, it must acquire the material, energy, money, and information (input) needed to accomplish the goals. After acquiring the resources, the organization attempts to utilize the resources (throughput) effectively to achieve the desired results. The end product of the processing activities is the output that the organization disseminates. Output can be as tangible as an automobile or as intangible as ideas that may help people to create a safer environment.
Information is one of the resources organizations acquire to accomplish desired goals. The information will be in one of four forms: data, text, image, or sound. Most organizations use all four forms of information. More new technologies are drawing these four forms closer together, and sometime in the not-too-distant future there may be an integrated information resource (see fig. 1.3). The computer is rather like the steam engine at the start of the Industrial Revolutionthe power source for the integration process. Scanning equipment is becoming more sophisticated and capable of recognizing printed words and converting the recognized patterns into oral presentations
(speech synthesizers). Videotext and teletext are other examples of the blending of forms taking place.
Some years ago, S. D. Neill published an article questioning the information role of the library. Neill suggested that the appropriate role is as the knowledge center. 21 Which role one selects depends largely on how one defines the concepts. In addition to information, one must define knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the result of linking together a number of pieces of
Convergence of information technology and organizational information processing.
information into meaningful patterns. Wisdom is the ability to draw accurate conclusions from the available information and knowledge. Knowledge and wisdom are individual (personal) processes and what may be knowledge for one person may be wisdom for someone else. In our opinion, libraries and information centers can supply information, including recorded knowledge and wisdom. We can inform, but it is up to the users to gain knowledge and wisdom.
Robert S. Taylor proposed a more complete hierarchy. Taylor's "value added hierarchy" consists of five levels: the lowest level is data, followed by information, informing knowledge, productive knowledge, and action. Although his primary concern is with the means by which value is associated with information (a topic beyond the scope of this book), anyone interested in developing collections should read his article. Informing knowledge is similar to the definition of knowledge given earlier. Productive knowledge is "a judgmental process, where options are presented and advantages and disadvantages weighed." 22 Personal definitions of various terms (such as data, information, knowledge, and wisdom), as well as one's beliefs about the role of the library or information center, affect the type of collection one builds.
Another important factor is the organizational environment of the library or information center. Almost 30 years ago, F. Emery and E. L. Trist identified four basic types of organizational environments: placid-randomized, placid-clustered, disturbed-reactive, and turbulent.23 Although not directly concerned with information, Emery and Trist's descriptions of these environments do indicate how the environment would affect information work. A placid-randomized environment, for example, is one in which the organization assumes that both the goals and the dangers are basically unchanging. (A danger is something that would adversely affect the viability of the organization.) Organizational goals are long-term and seldom need adjustment. Such organizations assume that changes or dangers to their well-being occur randomly, and there is little or no predictability as to when such changes or dangers will be encountered. In such an environment, the organization collects information to meet long-term goals. These goals would be considered very predictable, making collection development relatively easy. Museum collections and archives are examples of organizations operating in a placid-randomized environment; at least this was the case in the past. Today, and for the future, it does not seem likely that many organizations will be operating in such an environment.
Many libraries and information centers operate in a placid-clustered environment. Emery and Trist defined this environment as one where goals are primarily long-term, but the organization quickly adjusts the goals if there is a significant change in the external factors. In such an environment, the organization assumes that dangers, and to some extent opportunities, will arise in clusters. Further, the organization assumes that it will need to expend some effort in identifying and collecting information about the clusters. With collection development, this means there is a body of relatively unchanging organizational goals, but some time, energy, and money would be directed toward identifying and collecting information that might affect the goals. Most educational institutions and public libraries operate in this type of environment. They set long-term goals and rarely change those goals, although they may change short-term objectives. However, they do recognize that dangers exist, such as changing public attitudes about the value of
social services generally and library services specifically. Once the questioning starts, it generally expands in scope (clustering) and does not disappear quickly. Also, new service opportunities arise as new technologies become available that may be appropriate for the institution to use. These opportunities may counteract some or all of the dangers (e.g., competition) arising from the new technologies.
Disturbed-reactive environments are those in which active competitors to the organization exist. In this environment, having prompt, accurate information about what the competitors are doingand, when possible, what they are planning to dois very important. Although the organization has long-term goals, it revises its goals in light of information received about competitors' activities. Business and industrial (special) libraries operate in such an environment. Here, four or five years may represent a large amount of time for long-term collection goals. However, the library or information center devotes significant resources to determining what the competition is doing.
Finally, there is the turbulent environment. Not only do competitors exist, but the level of competition necessitates competition for survival. As a result of knowing what others are doing or planning to do, an organization may make a radical change in its basic purposes. Anyone who reads the business section of a newspaper encounters examples of organizations that made successful basic goal changes, and those that failed because they did not change. On a slightly less extreme level, an information center or library serving a research and development team experiences occasional abrupt shifts in collecting emphasis, partly due to the knowledge gained from the information collected about competitors' work and progress. Thus, the organizational environment is also an information environment, and the nature of the environment affects the nature of the collection development activities.
With this background we can now look at how organizations and individuals process information. Figure 1.4, page 14, is a representation of how this process works; space 1 indicates the totality of matter and energy surrounding an organization or individual. The line separating spaces 1 and 2 represents the boundary between noise and patterned signals (information) as identified by a person or organization. A person or organization identifies only a small portion of the total flow as information. As the information environment changes, so does the boundary between spaces 1 and 2. A portion of what the individual or organization identifies as information is of sufficient importance to store it for a short time. Space 3 represents the short-term information storage area. Of that total, the person or organization selects a smaller amount of information for long-term/indefinite retention (space 4). The dotted line within space 4 creates an area labeled 5, which represents the information that a person or organization uses from long-term storage and disseminates to the external environment.
On an individual level, anyone in the United States who receives mail for any length of time uses this process. Almost every time a person picks up the mail (the total flow), there is an assortment of material in the delivery. The person recognizes each piece as an attempt at communication. Some material is not within the boundary of information, as defined by the person in question, and thus is noise (space 1). Items in this category go straight into the trash or recycling bin. Other pieces may be about something of interest but not of immediate high interest (space 2). Items in this category go into
the bin as well, but there is a slight pause as the person completes the information cycle and selects the desired course of action. A few pieces may relate to something of some interest, and the person sets this material aside for later consideration "when there is time." Depending upon the person, days or weeks or even months go by before he or she looks at the material again. More often than not, as a result of a changed environment, this material also ends up in the wastebasket or recycling bin. A few of the items that a person or an entire organization identifies as information receive long-term retention. The person files a few items for safekeeping or later action (for example, insurance policies, legal documents, and letters from friends and family) (space 4). Of the total retained in this manner, only a few (usually bills) will require or motivate a person to process the information and respond (space 5)
Organizational processing of information: 1) Matter and energy surrounding an
organization or individual; 2) Boundary between noise and patterned signals
(information); 3) Short-term information storage area; 4) Long-term/indefinite
retention of information; 5) Information that an organization or individual
uses from long-term storage and disseminates to the external environment.
Libraries and information centers engage in exactly the same process. No organization can take in and process every patterned signal. They all draw some line that separates information from noise. Where the organization draws the line depends upon the nature of its activities and its information environment. The line might be drawn in terms of language, subject matter, depth of treatment, format, or combinations of factors. Even within the defined limits, only a portion of the total information is stored. Organizations acquire and store some items for short periods because their value to the organization is short-lived, due to changing interest or because the information becomes dated. Libraries and information centers normally acquire and store more information for long periods of time than the organization will use and/or disseminate to the external environment. The percentage allocated to long-term retention varies among organizations. Organizations operating in a placid-randomized environment normally have a large percentage of retained but unused or disseminated information (50 percent or more). At the other end of the spectrum (turbulent), there should be and usually is very little difference between the two categories. Archives and research libraries are at the high-retention/low-dissemination end of the spectrum, whereas information centers and libraries in for-profit organizations are usually the opposite: low-retention/high-dissemination.
The primary purpose of libraries and information centers is to assist in the transfer of information and the development of knowledge. Figure 1.5, page 16, illustrates the process involved, using nine circles to represent the transfer cycle. Information transfer is an elaboration of the basic information cycle described earlier. There is the identification stage, during which the organization segregates appropriate from inappropriate information. In most instances, there is more appropriate information available than the organization can handle. Thus, there is a need to select the most appropriate or important information to acquire. After acquisition, the organization organizes the information in some manner. Upon completion of the organizing action comes the preparation of the information for storage, which should mean the information is easily retrievable. Users often need assistance to describe their needs in a manner that leads to locating and retrieving the desired information (interpretation). Finally, users draw upon the secured information to aid them in their activities/work (utilization), and disseminate the outcome of the work to the internal or external environment, or both. If the transfer process is to function properly, there must be procedures, policies, and people in place to carry out the necessary operational steps. As always, there must be coordination and money for the operations to do what they were set up to do; this is the administrative and managerial aspect of information work.
The foregoing discussion helps set the stage for this book, which focuses on the process of building information collections for long- and short-term storage. Collection development, or information acquisition, is one area common to both librarianship and information resource management. As in prior editions, we define collection development as "the process of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a library's materials collection in terms of patron needs and community resources, and attempting to correct existing weaknesses, if any." With only minor modifications, this definition can apply to both libraries and information collections in any organization. Thus, collection development is the process of meeting the information needs of the
people (a service population) in a timely and economical manner using information resources locally held, as well as from other organizations. This new definition is broader in scope and places emphasis on thoughtful (timely and economical) collection building, and on seeking out both internal and external information resources. It is worth noting that Ross Atkinson suggested that the phrases collection development and collection management are being used interchangeably, and that there is no consensus on which term is more comprehensive in scope. 24
Collection development is a universal process for libraries and information centers. Figure 1.6 illustrates the six major components of the process. One can see a relationship between figures 1.5 and 1.6, in that collection development involves three of the nine information transfer elements (identification, selection, acquisition). As implied by the circle, collection development is a constant cycle that continues as long as the library or information center exists. All of the elements in the cycle are discussed in subsequent chapters.
Information transfer work.
Collection development process.
sources, not just staff-generated material. For collection development personnel, the assessment process provides data on what information the clientele needs. It also establishes a valuable mechanism for patron input into the process of collection development. (Note the size of the arrow in figure 1.6 from the community to collection development; the size indicates the level of patron input appropriate for each element).
One use for the data collected in a needs assessment is as part of the preparation for collection development policy. Clearly delineated policies on both collection development and selection (covered in chapter 3) provide collection development staff with guidelines for choosing items for inclusion in the collection. (Note that collection policies cover a wider range of topics than just selection policies. For example, selection policies normally provide only information useful in deciding which items to purchase, whereas collection policies cover that topic in addition to such related issues as gifts, weeding, and cooperation.) Most libraries have some of the required information available for their collection development personnel, although they do not always label it ''policy." Some libraries call it an acquisitions policy, some a selection policy, some a collection development policy, and others simply a statement. Whatever the local label, the intent is the same: to define the library's goals for its collection(s), and to help staff members select and acquire the most appropriate materials.
At this point, the staff begins the procedures for selecting materials (covered in chapters 4 through 10) using whatever written policies or statements the library has prepared. For many people, this is the most interesting element in the collection development process. One constant factor in collection development is that there is never enough money available to buy everything that might be of value to the service community. Naturally, this means that someone, usually one or more professional staff members, must decide which items to buy. Selection is the process of deciding which materials to acquire for a library collection. It may involve deciding among items that provide information about the same subject; deciding whether the information contained in an item is worth the price; or deciding whether an item could stand up to the use it would receive. In essence, it is a matter of systematically determining quality and value. Selection is a form of decision making. Most of the time it is not just a matter of identifying appropriate materials, but of deciding among items that are essential, important, needed, marginal, nice, or luxurious. Where to place any item in the sequence from essential to luxurious depends, of course, on the individual selector's point of view. It's just a matter of perception. So it is with library materials.
An individual buying an item normally does not have to justify the expenditure to anyone. However, when it is a question of spending the library community's money, whether derived from taxes or a company's budget, the problem is more complex. The question of whose perception of value to use is one of the challenges in collection development. Needs assessments and policies help determine the answer, but there is a long-standing question in the field: How much emphasis should selectors place on clientele demand and how much on content quality? Often the question of perception comes up when someone objects to the presence of an item in the collection (see chapter 19).
Once the selectors make their decisions, the acquisition work begins (see chapters 11, 12, and 13). Acquisition work is the process of securing materials for the library's collection, whether by purchase, as gifts, or through
exchange programs. This is the only point in the collection development process that involves little or no community input; it is a fairly straightforward business operation. Once the staff decides to purchase an item, the acquisition department proceeds with the preparation of an order form and the selection of a vendor, eventually recording the receipt of the item and finally paying the bill (invoice). Though details vary, the basic routines remain the same around the world, just as they do in either a manual or automated work environment. (Note that acquisition does not always mean buying an item. Gift and exchange programs are also useful means of acquiring needed material.)
After receipt, an item goes through a series of internal library operations (beyond the scope of this book), such as cataloging, and is eventually made available to the patron community. Over time, nearly every item outlives its original usefulness in the collection. Often the decision is to remove these items from the main collection. The activity of examining items in the library and determining their current value to that library's collection (and to the service community) has several labels, the oldest being weeding (see chapter 14). Another term for this process is deselection (the opposite of selection). In England, the term used is stock relegation. When a library decides that a given item is no longer of value, it will dispose of the item (by selling it, giving it away, or even throwing it away). If the item still has some value for the library, the decision may be to transfer the item to a less accessible and usually less expensive storage location.
Evaluation (see chapter 15) is the last element in the collection development process. To some extent, weeding is an evaluation activity, but weeding is also more of an internal library operation. Evaluation of a collection may serve many different purposes, both inside and outside the library. For example, it may help to increase funding for the library. It may aid in the library's gaining some form of recognition, such as high standing in a comparative survey. Additionally, it may help to determine the quality of the work done by the collection development staff. For effective evaluation to occur, the service community's needs must be considered, which leads back to community analysis.
There is little reason to define library materials other than to emphasize that this volume covers various formats, not just books. Different authors writing about library collections use a number of related terms: print, nonprint, visual materials, audiovisuals, a-v, other media, and so on. There is no single term encompassing all forms that has gained universal acceptance among librarians. Library materials (or simply, materials) is a nonspecific term with respect to format that is otherwise inclusive. Thus, it is used throughout this text. Library materials may include books, periodicals, pamphlets, reports, manuscripts, microformats, motion pictures, videotapes or audiotapes, sound recordings, realia, and so forth. In effect, almost any physical object that conveys information, thoughts, or feelings potentially can be part of an information collection.
Two last terms must to be defined: collection management and information resource management. The terms cover similar activities and differ primarily in organizational context. Collection management, as used today, relates to a library environment (in the traditional sense) where the emphasis is on collecting materials produced by other organizations. Information resource management, as used today, relates to any organizational context, often without any centralized collection of materials, in which the information
resource manager is responsible for identifying and making available both internal and external sources of information. Both terms incorporate all aspects of collection development discussed earlier, plus such managerial aspects as budget planning and control, staffing, and physical facilities. The goal, for both collection management and information resource management, is to provide accurate information in a timely and cost-effective manner to all members of the service community.
Collection Development and the Community
Several factors inside and outside the library influence collection development. Among these factors are the library's structure and organization, the production and distribution of the information materials, and the presence of other libraries in the area. Figure 1.7 illustrates some of the interrelationships among the library organization, the producers and distributors of materials, and other libraries
Traditionally, libraries have organized their internal activities into public and technical services. Those activities in which the staff has daily contact with patrons are considered public services; almost all other activities are technical services. Collection development very often bridges this
Collection development, the library, and the community.
traditional division. With increased automation of library functions, the boundaries between public and technical services are disappearing. In fact, they are becoming so undefined that some libraries are doing away with these labels. The library staff responsible for collection development provides information to the acquisition department (usually classed as a technical service), which in turn orders the desired items from the materials producer or a distributor. After receiving the materials and clearing the records, the acquisition department sends the items on to the cataloging department for processing. Eventually, the processed items go onto shelves or into cabinets where the public can use them. Both the public service staff and the patrons using the collections provide input to the collection development staff concerning the value of individual items. The selection staff then considers the input when performing deselection and evaluation activities. The information generated from these sources may eventually influence the library's written policies for collection development.
Materials producers exert many significant influences. Obviously they control what is available for library purchase by their choice of whether or not to produce any given item. (Chapters 4 and 5 describe some of the factors in such decisions.) Furthermore, their business requirements occasionally cause libraries to modify their acquisition procedures; however, most producers and vendors are very good about accommodating unusual library requirements. Finally, producers market their products directly to the patron community, thus generating a demand. Patrons often communicate this demand to the library rather than buying the item, thus causing an indirect response to the marketing activities of the material producers.
Collections and services in other libraries and information centers used by the service population also influence collection development. Cooperative collection development programs enable libraries to provide better service, a wider range of materials, or both. Cooperative projects also can reduce the duplication of materials that results from overlapping service communities and patron influence on collection development. For example, a person might engage in business research while in the company's library. The person may take evening classes at an academic institution, using that library for class-related and business-related materials alike. That same individual may also rely on a local public librarybecause of its convenienceto supply information on both job-related and recreational concerns. Thus, one person's requests for job-related materials could influence three different types of libraries in the same area to collect the same material. Despite their numerous advantages, effective cooperative programs can still be difficult to work out (see chapter 16 for a further discussion of this issue).
Collection Development and Institutional Environments
The variety of institutional settings in which one finds information services is large. However, it is possible to discuss a few general categories: education, business, government, and research. These categories share some basic characteristics. All have a specific service population, all collect and preserve materials in a form suitable for use by the service population, and
they each organize materials in a manner designed to aid in the rapid identification and retrieval of desired material(s). The definitions given earlier also apply to all of these categories. Differences emerge because of both the specific service population and the limits set by the library's or information center's governing body.
Collection development is a universal process for all types of libraries. As one moves from one environmental setting to another, however, differences in emphasis on the various elements of the collection development process become apparent. For example, some education (school) and government (public) libraries tend to place more emphasis on library staff selection activities than do business and research libraries. Also, differences in emphasis occur within a type of library, so that occasionally a community college library (education) might more closely resemble a large public library (government) in its collection development activities than it does a university library (education). The approach taken in this book is to present an overview and when necessary to note the differences among and within the types.
To some extent, the chapters in this book reflect these differences in emphasis. For several reasons, needs analysis is very important in public and school libraries, as well as in information centers (in a business), but it receives less emphasis in college and university libraries. In public libraries, selection is usually the responsibility of librarians, whereas in other types of information centers patrons have a stronger direct voice in the selection process. Public libraries need the information derived from such an analysis to build an effective collection; therefore, chapter 2 on information needs assessment has a public library's slant.
The size of a library's service community has a definite bearing on collection development. Three facts of collection development are universal:
1. As the size of the service community increases, the degree of divergence in individual information needs increases.
2. As the degree of divergence in individual information needs increases, the need for cooperative programs of information materials sharing increases.
3. It will never be possible to satisfy all of the information needs of any individual or class of clientele in the service community.
Even special libraries and information centers, serving a limited number of persons, encounter problems in relation to these laws. Because no two persons are identical, it is impossible for their materials needs and interests to coincide entirely. In the special library environment, the interests of patrons can be and often are very similar, but even within a team of research workers exploring a single problem, individual needs will vary. The needs of a small group are not as homogeneous as they may at first appear.
The element of collection development that varies the least is collection development policy. Simply put, as the collection grows in size, the need for more complex and detailed policy statements increases. Thus, large academic and research libraries generally have the most comprehensive collection policy statements.
Selection is the element that varies the most among and within the types. Because of those many variations, it is difficult to make many generalizations. However, with that in mind, the following are some general statements about the variations:
1. Public libraries emphasize title-by-title selection, and librarians do the selecting.
2. School libraries also emphasize title-by-title selection. Although the media specialist may make the final decision, a committee composed of librarians, teachers, administrators, and parents may have a strong voice in the process.
3. Special and corporate libraries select materials in rather narrow subject fields for specific research and business purposes. Often the client is the primary selector.
4. Academic libraries select materials in subject areas for educational and research purposes, with selection done by several different methods: faculty only, joint faculty/library committees, librarians only, or subject specialists.
The size of the collection is also a factor in determining the who and the how of selection. In small public libraries, most of the librarians do some selection work. (Very often there is only one librarian to do all the professional work.) As the library system grows, adds branches, and expands services, the library director delegates work. More often than not, it is the department heads and branch library supervisors who have selection responsibilities. Large metropolitan systems frequently assign selection activities to a committee composed of representatives from all of the service programs, though not always from every branch. This committee generates a list of titles from which individual services and branches select. In essence, the book selection committee does the initial screening and identification work for the system.
A similar relationship of size and selection exists in academic libraries and some special libraries. However, the selectors in these cases more often than not are the users: academic faculty or company staff. Even when librarians are responsible for selection in libraries serving institutions with hundreds of subject specialists, the faculty members or researchers have a significant voice in the selection process. Obviously, the in-depth knowledge of a subject specialist can become the deciding factor in making a selection. A common practice in both types of libraries is to hire librarians with graduate degrees in both librarianship and one other subject area. Even then, because of the advanced and sometimes esoteric nature of the research reported in the materials, the library must draw on all of the subject expertise at the institution.
In small academic and special libraries, selection is in the hands of the subject specialist (faculty or researcher), unless the librarian is also an expert in the field. Indeed, small academic institutions often expect the teaching faculty to build the library collection. As budgets for materials increase and the collection grows proportionally, the librarians become more involved in selection activities.
Eventually a collection will fill all available shelf space. Some time before that happens, the library must decide either to reduce the collection size (deselection) or to create additional storage space. In school and public libraries, this does not present a great problem; patrons often wear out popular items, freeing up shelf space. Often such libraries buy multiple copies of items. Then, by retaining just one copy after demand drops, they regain some shelf space. Also, only exceptionally large public libraries have major archival responsibilities; thus, weeding is somewhat easier. Academic and research libraries seldom buy multiple copies and have significant archival responsibilities, making deselection an involved process. Special (business) libraries perform deselection on a regular basis because of space limitations. Often this results in rules for weeding. (For instance, discard all monographs that are five years old.) Rules of this kind help to solve one problem: lack of staff time for deselection. However, this less thoughtful approach to the problem may increase the demand for interlibrary loan of items discarded. More research has been performed on weeding/deselection in academic libraries than for all of the other types of libraries combined, and chapter 14, with its emphasis on academic libraries, includes a further discussion of this issue.
Although the final phase of the process, collection evaluation, takes place in all types of libraries, it is especially significant in libraries serving educational organizations. One form of evaluation is performed by an outside agency that determines the quality of education provided (accreditation) by schools and academic institutions. If nothing more, the agency (government or private) that funds the institution will require periodic assessments, which will invariably include the library and its collection. For such libraries, the evaluation process may have far-reaching effects. Naturally, librarians in educational institutions have a strong interest in improving the evaluation process, and they have written a great deal about the topic. Chapter 15 draws heavily upon this literature, as well as the literature on accreditation.
Every organization and person needs and uses information to survive. The way in which organizations locate, collect, and store information ranges from unstructured chance encounters to a tightly structured, carefully planned process. In the latter case, the organization usually creates a library or information center to handle the work. Collection building requires considerable resources; furthermore, the ways the library organizes, stores, and retrieves the information can be vital to the success of the organization. The definitions in this chapter and the concepts described in this book form the foundation upon which one actively develops a collection of information materials to meet the specific needs of an individual community.
Collection development is a dynamic process that should involve both the information professional and the service community. Few information professionals question the need or value of client input; the question is how much there should be. The best answer is, as much as the organization can handle and still carry out its basic functions, and as much as the community is willing to provide. The following statements are the philosophical foundations of this work:
1. Collection development should be geared primarily to identified needs rather than to abstract standards of quality; however, an identified need can be a long-term need (more than five years into the future), not just an immediate need.
2. Collection development, to be effective, must be responsive to the total community's needs, not just to those of the current or the most active users.
3. Collection development should be carried out with knowledge of and participation in cooperative programs at the local, regional, state, national, and international levels.
4. Collection development should consider all information formats for inclusion in the collection.
5. Collection development was, is, and always will be subjective, biased work. A periodic review of the selector's personal biases and their effects on the selection process is the best check against developing a collection that reflects personal interests rather than customer interests.
6. Collection development is not learned entirely in the classroom or from reading. Only through practice, taking risks, and learning from mistakes will a person become proficient in the process of developing a collection.
Technology is changing the way libraries and information centers do business. A term that gained popularity after 1990 is virtual library or knowledge center. Recently some writers have used the phrase in ways that negate the original meaning, which was:
a system by which a user may connect transparently to remote libraries and databases using the local library's online catalog or a university or network gateway. Eventually, a user will be able to enter a query, get a cup of coffee, and let the computer check all the databases on the network to retrieve an answer. 25
Some writers, as noted earlier, suggest that the virtual library means the demise of collection development. However, those who understand the concept know that the issue of selection and collection building will remain an important function in whatever environment technology brings.
One can engage in collection development in libraries and information centers that are formally or informally organized. Although organization labels will vary, the process is the same. Most large organizations now view information and its management and control to be as essential as any other resource they employ. In fact, obtaining the right information at the right time, and being able to analyze and apply it successfully, are crucial to an organization's success and survival. As a result, organizations are training and hiring people who know how to acquire and manage information resources. Though many organizations will not call these individuals librarians, and they may not work in libraries, they need and use many of the same skills librarians traditionally employ in collection building. Whatever environment one works in, collection development is an exciting challenge that requires lifelong learning. One way of keeping up-to-date is to subscribe to a discussion list, such as the Library Collection Development List (COLLDVL@USC.VM).